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  • The weather can change pretty quickly down here,

  • and it can get extremely cold extremely quick.

  • The minimum temperature with wind chill

  • is expected to be around -47 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • One of the main concerns is that we lose visibility quite frequently when the winds pick up.

  • So every time we go out, we have survival bags, so that we could survive for three days

  • if a really bad storm set in and we had to stay out on the sea ice.

  • I'm currently in the Crary Lab Research Facilities in McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

  • The very first time I came down here, I expected an environment that was just a flat sheet of ice.

  • I was hit by the realization that Antarctica is filled with mountains.

  • The beauty of it really kind of surprised me.

  • Research proposals that come in on an annual basis to do work down here, are probably up around

  • 200 to 300 proposals a year, and they may fund, on average, maybe 10 of those proposals.

  • And so it's highly competitive.

  • We're here looking at how the fish that are adapted to subzero waters

  • are able to respond to changes in temperature.

  • These fish typically see very little change from year to year,

  • but with climate change coming on, we expect that to be more variable.

  • As well as changes in temperature, the ocean's also changing in pH.

  • And so those combined effects may actually have some pretty negative impacts on the fish

  • as they try and adapt and respond.

  • It is go, go, go, for us, seven days a week for about three months.

  • We have a relatively short season when the sea ice is stable enough for us to work on it,

  • so we sometimes have even gone on three different fishing trips in a day.

  • Typically we'll wake up and head over to the galley and grab a hot meal.

  • Then we will head on over to the Crary Lab facilities where we do most of our research at.

  • We'll gear up, get into a tractor vehicle called a PistenBulley,

  • and then we head out onto the sea ice to go fishing.

  • Along the way, we may have to profile a few sea ice cracks

  • to make sure that the thickness of the ice is safe enough to cross.

  • "So right now we're headed out towards Inaccessible Island,

  • and we've just about reached the Erebus Glacier Tongue.

  • We're getting close to a crack that sets up here annually, in between

  • the Erebus Glacier Tongue and Tent Island, which is off to the left.

  • So we'll head up here and see if we can find the crack, and then we'll have to profile it

  • to see if we can get across it today."

  • Once we get there, we'll drill some holes in the sea ice using a machine called a jiffy drill.

  • It's basically a 10-inch auger that we can use to drill into the ice.

  • Once we've caught enough fish, we place them into aerated coolers with ambient seawater

  • and drive them back to the station, where we put them into aquariums.

  • They actually make up about 90% of the fish biomass down here, and if they start to struggle,

  • then the food chain that is reliant upon them is also going to start to struggle as well.

  • It may help us get some sort of insight into how these populations are going to handle change,

  • and whether or not we should be concerned about any of these fishery species,

  • and start to manage them differently.

  • Cell phones do not work down here.

  • You don't have to cook for yourself.

  • You don't shower every day, because we need to conserve on water.

  • Those kind of daily activities that distract you from your goals and your focus --

  • all of those are kind of removed from your everyday life

  • and it really simplifies things for you down here.

  • It allows me to really pursue research, which is what I was trained to do, is to be a scientist.

  • It allows me to come down here and actually go after questions that I can't ask

  • anywhere else in the world.

  • In another episode of Science In The Extremes, a neurobiologist free-dives with great white sharks,

  • to understand how fear works in the brain.

  • Thanks for watching, and be sure to subscribe to Seeker.

The weather can change pretty quickly down here,

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B1 US sea ice fish sea drill research temperature

Battling Antarctic Ice Storms to Study the Secrets of Subzero Survival

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    joey joey posted on 2021/04/16
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